Indian River’s second-year field hockey head coach, Julene Williamson, took off for personal issues this season, but so far, new head coach Cheryl Carey hasn’t missed a beat. A former field hockey coach with knowledge and love for the game, Carey is putting her experience to the test as the team readies for the upcoming season.
“I definitely have a passion for this sport,” said Carey, “and I wanted to make sure it was something that we could develop in the program.”
Last year, the Lady Indians struggled to find consistency and a powering offense, but Carey has already noticed the ambition and drive in her athletes.
“These kids are great,” she said. “They’re working hard, and we’re getting better every day as a team.”
With 10 girls graduating from last year’s roster, Carey has plenty of fresh athletes coming out for the team, but as a new coach, the transition has been an easy one.
“The efforts and attitudes of these girls have been great,” Carey said, “and that’s really helped make everything work together. We’ve got kids who are voluntarily staying after practice to work on what they need to fix. These girls haven’t missed a beat as I’ve stepped in. They keep that commitment to the game. Everything we show them and tell them, they go with.”
Indian River squared off against James M. Bennett earlier this week in a scrimmage, and will travel to Polytech for a play day this Saturday, Aug. 28.
“The first scrimmage helped a lot,” said Carey. “We saw where we are and, from that, we can picture where we go from here. It was the first opportunity to see these kids in a game situation, and we had a lot of young talent stepping up. Returning seniors are also stepping up as leaders, and we were able to put the ball in the cage, which is good thing.”
Last season, the Lady Indians only managed a 3-11-1 record, but Carey is hoping for a better showing this year.
“We’ve got a great offense that we’re building this year’s team around,” she said. “It’s all very exciting, and the girls are positive. We talked at the end of the scrimmage about what we need to work on. We’ve got to score to win and keep their shots out of the cage. Everyone contributes, and the girls are learning that No. 34 is just as important as No. 1.”
Returning names, such as Alyssa Proter, Jena Albright and Michele Murray, will help welcome some experience back to the team, while incoming athletes will bring another aspect of the game to the field.
“We’re looking at possibly working a freshman in as a goalie,” said Carey. “It will be fun to see where that goes. Carley Smith is another strong freshman with her nose to the ball.”
“Field hockey involves a lot of skill,” she added. “It’s a fun, but difficult game to be good at. You can’t just go into it and expect to know it all.”
The Lady Indians will get their season started on Wednesday, Sept. 15, when they travel to Caesar Rodney.
“The girls are going to see that we can play with a lot of teams. It’s keeping them excited and they’re working hard.”